Whether you have an on-the-grid or off-the-grid solar system, it is understandable to have some concerns about heading into the winter.
The sunlight hours are shorter in winter, and as a result, the days are also shorter and darker.
However, if you take the right steps, there’s enough sunlight to significantly reduce your energy bill or to power your household through the coldest months.
Take a pro-active approach to ensuring that your solar power system and energy use is the most efficient it can be this winter:
- Adjust the angle of your solar panels
The winter sun moves in different patterns and casts light in other directions, compared to summer or spring. To get the most of your solar panels, you may need to adjust the tilt of your panels so that they can get the greatest amount of sunlight during the day.
Ask your solar panel installers, if you are unsure of the best angle for your solar panels during autumn and/or winter.
- Store your solar battery appropriately
Your solar battery contains fluids; therefore, it should never fall below zero degrees so that the fluid is able to continue to move and store energy. Extreme temperatures can also corrupt solar batteries and shorten their lifespan.
For this reason, it is recommended to keep your solar battery stored indoors. If you decide to store your solar battery outdoors, you must ensure that you have a proper insulation solution to help control the temperature and prevent it from freezing.
- Inspect your equipment
While inspecting your solar battery to ensure it does not freeze, you should also monitor the voltage level of each battery. By constantly doing this, you will be able to spot an issue before it becomes a greater problem or inconvenience. You should also ensure that everything is well connected, and that your batteries have a proper level of fluids.
- Clean and maintain your equipment
If you haven’t already, purchase some snow removal gear such as a long handled sponge or mop to clean your solar panels safely from the ground. You want to wipe down your solar panels to remove any snow that could hinder the sunlight your panels would otherwise collect and convert to energy. If you can’t do this from the ground safely, consider calling a professional to clean your roof and solar panels instead. Also keep enough anti-freeze distilled water on hand to look after your solar battery and ensure it doesn’t freeze. This is particularly important if your solar system is off the grid.
- Reduce energy use
It probably goes without saying but using less electricity than you need is a great way to make your energy usage more efficient. Therefore, saving you both money and energy generated by your system, to make your solar power go further.
Turn off lights in rooms when no one’s using or occupying a room and consider using more energy efficient rated bulbs. You can also save more electricity by using solar powered garden and fairy lights with their own small solar panels, instead of using systems that connect to the mains.
Also switch off ‘ghost loads’ by turning off power on outlets and unplugging cables that can still suck in power. It happens even when appliances are themselves off or not in use!
- Reduce heat loss
During the wintertime, heaters and HVAC systems will most likely consume most of your energy. You can make the most of the heat your house naturally pulls in by inspecting your home for any leaks in insulation.
Windows can also be a weaker barrier in your home, that allows more of the cold to creep in. Double glazed windows can help create a stronger insulative barrier to regulate the temperature in your home. Another way to use your windows to warm up your home is to throw open the curtains when the sun is pouring in, and close your curtains again when the sun passes over to keep the heat in. This also becomes more effective with the use of thermal or insulated curtains.
- Back up generator
If your solar panel system is off the grid, it’s especially important for your household that you get the most efficiency of your solar panels and don’t run out of energy. In the case you do, it might be worth it to invest in a back-up generator for your property, so you have a solution to address any unexpected weather conditions.